Tag Archives: Review

It Is Finished

I am FINALLY done with that book!!!!!!!!!

I skipped the criticisms and other essays in the back of this text...

I skipped the criticisms and other essays in the back of this text…

I feel liberated. 

happy dance

I feel overjoyed

celebration

I feel like I want to burn my own bra.

I finished it two days ago, but took some time to let it digest before I wrote this post.  I’m sorry. I understand that Austen’s works are revered as a socioeconomic and political glimpse at life during the Victorian era but seriously! They had NOTHING better to do?  It was all “who had this fortune,” “how much could they live off of,” “who was eligible for marriage.”  No real plot was to be found in the book just the main characters sitting around, going to dances, worrying about who came calling and when.  Even shows on Bravo have better plot lines.  I understand that at that time, there was nothing but status to really keep one in the right circles but it just got so old.  It was slammed in your face every other page, reminders that fortune and property were valued almost more than the individual.

Marianne was selfish, rude, materialistic, and a feckin drama queen.  Who (?!?!?!?!) makes themselves ill almost to the point of death over the THOUGHT  that someone MIGHT propose only to find out that you really weren’t dating at all and it was all in your head. How utterly ridiculous did I find her actions,  as much as I found the narrative which read just as this sentence does in horrible way…I almost wanted her to die just so I didn’t have to see her ridiculous actions continue on.

Then, there were the endless gossip circles.  Why didn’t any of these ladies just pick up a book.  Didn’t the gossip get old?  Didn’t they run out of things to gossip about?  Eventually all the ladies were married.  Did they move on to the next generation?  Maybe I have lived in a small town for too long and become jaded by the gossip that sometimes occurs in a small town, but this was just too much. So many things were fueled by the gossip.   Maybe that’s what Austen intended – to show how a giant game of English Countryside Telephone would potentially kill a young girl?

I seriously doubt that I, in a past life, lived during this era.  If I did, I hope I was a man.  They at least got to do more exciting things.

I know I have Pride and Prejudice in the pile.  I think I will put that one off for a little while longer, unless it has more of a plot and characters I can actually care about.  Now, I’m off to be scared by Mr. Koontz…

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Minions, Tortilla Hats, and Laughs

The Husband had to get his oil changed today so we figured since he takes it to Sears Auto Center (since it’s open on Saturdays and cheaper than Jiffy Lube), we knew we were going to have two hours or so to kill.  Even though the Daughter and I went to the movies yesterday, we went again today to see Despicable Me 2.

I was excited.  Minions remind me of penguins.  Penguins that talk.  Yellow penguins in overalls with a sense of humor.  Ok…so nothing like penguins but if penguins had souls, they would be embodied in the Minions.  I love the Minions. I don’t know why, but like the rest of the country, I am enamored with those little yellow oblong creatures that speak nonsense and laugh at fart jokes.

minions

I didn’t know what to expect with Despicable Me 2.  Usually sequels to great movies are a let down, and kids movies especially fit into that category (Return of Jafar???), so I went in with low expectations.  Basically, I expected the Minions to have all the high points of the movie.

But luckily, I was surprised.  First, as a Real Housewives connoisseur, I had a chuckle when the housewife at Agnes’ birthday party looked eerily like Taylor from RHOBH.  Maybe it was just the mouth but there was one shot where I just laughed to myself and wondered if Taylor knew someone who worked there and had them put her in…

The one on the right is the one that reminded me of RHOBH

The one on the right is the one that reminded me of RHOBH – though the one on the left did too…in a trashy kind of way…

There were so many other great laughs: The french maid minion, El Macho riding a shark and tons of dynamite into a volcano, Agnes reciting her poem, Gru’s reaction to Beatrice discovering young love.  I really enjoyed it on so many levels.

I probably would have enjoyed it even more if I hadn’t dropped the medium (2 liter) drink that cost an arm and a leg all over the Daughter, the Husband, and myself.  The movie had even started and not a single sip had been had of the drink.  Despite being soaked, the Daughter did not want to leave and cried because she thought we were going to leave.  So we stayed because we are cheap and didn’t want to have spent all that money for just two previews.

The jokes were pretty good and if you listen closely, there were quite a few one liners thrown in there for parents.  The Daughter laughed a lot and did get scared at one point but it was kind of intense for a small kid.  When the minions did their thing though, she forgot why she was even scared at all.

minions2

Kristen Wiig is my new favorite comedic actress, just for the record.  I love her as Lola on the New Looney Toons Show.  I loved Bridesmaids.  I loved her on SNL.  I loved her as Lucy, Gru’s new partner.  I wish she had a little more to do in the movie…she was pretty awesome.

So go, see Despicable Me 2 and laugh and be envious of the tortilla hat, brim full of tasty guacamole.

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Monsters University – Pass or Fail?

With the heat that was taking over the Northeast today, I needed something to do for part of the day that didn’t have us baking in the sun at the beach.  Being fair-skinned and of Irish and Polish ancestry means I don’t tan, I burn and then go back to glow in the dark white.  I fear that the daughter is the same.

The Husband had expressed no interest in seeing Monsters University so I figured, what the heck.  Let’s go check it out.

Monsters-University-Wallpaper-HD-Dekstop

It opened up with a young Mike on an elementary school field trip to Monsters, Inc. to see how the factory collected screams and then used them for energy.  Poor Mike.  He was that kid that tried too hard.  He was smart but, had no friends.  After a stunt earns him the recognition of one of the big-shot scarers, Mike makes up his mind to get into Monster University and become a scarer.

Cue the opening credits and start the movie with the scene where Mike takes his first step on campus.  It reminded me of so many college flicks where the freshman walks the quad and tries to figure out which stereotypical club he or she fits into.  It was kind of funny knowing that it’s eerily true at some college campuses.  A lot of those parts, the Daughter just didn’t get but she still enjoyed it so that’s what counts.

Mike meets his roommate, Randall (yes the same Randall who tries to terrorize innocent Boo) and the two start out as good friends since both are Scaring majors. First day of class, they are both sitting in Scaring 101 and Sully makes his entrance.  He’s a legacy.  His father set a precedent and a lot is expected of him.  Sully doesn’t disappoint when he lets out an amazing roar that impresses the instructor and everyone else in the class.  Mike quickly sees that to achieve his dream, he has a lot of hard work ahead of him.

As the movie winds on, I found myself surprised at the message I kept picking up.  Mike had a dream.  It was an unlikely dream though, because he just wasn’t built for it.  He wasn’t scary enough to be a scarer, or so they kept telling him.  There was something just not quite there and there never would be.  At one point, Sully tells Mike that Mike may have memorized every scare theory in the book but there are just some things that can’t be taught.

This theme comes up a few more times and the events that transpire were a little shocking to me.  I don’t know if it’s because I’ve come to believe Disney is the home of “Good guys who try hard always win” or if it’s just I expected there to be some kind of positive message for the kids.

In the end, yes, the kids can see that with hard work you can get close to your dream but not quite there.  Sully got his dream.  Did Mike though?  Not really.

monsters inc magazine

I felt like they were trying to tell kids “Yeah, you’re going to try hard to achieve your biggest dream, but if you don’t fit that mold, don’t expect to achieve it.”  Ok, so Mike does something no monster had ever done before but it didn’t allow him to get to be a scarer, in fact, it forced him to almost give up on his dream altogether.  We all know that from watching Monsters, Inc.  Mike is a technician.  He’s a paper pusher.  He’s happy.  In the prequel, however, he is constantly reminded that he doesn’t fit the mold.

I wondered what the Daughter got out of it, because let’s face it, kids pick up some pretty wild things from movies.  She said she picked up the part where they broke into Monsters, Inc and didn’t want to get caught and go to jail.  “That was pretty funny, Mommy.”  Great, at least she knows that going to jail is bad.

She picked up on the bully fraternities and sororities that picked on Mike and his brothers.  She thought they weren’t very nice.  She also thought that the dean of the Scare College at Monsters University was scary and not nice.  I suppose that I shouldn’t worry too much that she didn’t say anything about accepting mediocrity, but the subconscious works in a funny way.

I know I’m probably reading too much into a Pixar movie, but it just struck me as funny that they kept hitting that point of you may not be cut out for something but that doesn’t mean you can’t find another thing that’s close to it and do that instead.  This is America, dammit! I want to keep believing in the American Dream! I want to believe that no matter what I look like, no matter where I come from, no matter what my name is, I can be whatever the hell I want to be as long as I work hard and am honest about my work!  To me, that’s a message I want the Daughter to learn, especially because she has been saying for the past year that she wants to be a doctor like her heart doctor.  I want to believe that if she works hard enough, she will be reviewing Echos and talking with her patients at some point in her life.  I don’t want anyone to tell her she’s just not scary enough to be a Scarer.

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I Will Burn for Reading This

Once upon a time, I was in Borders, or as I used to refer to the now defunct bookselling chain, heaven on Earth. I mean it had books, music, movies, AND a coffee shop. As long as new releases kept coming in, I could easily picture myself spending all of eternity in that store. Sadly, I do not think I will ever know if heaven is a giant Borders in the sky. At least not after reading this book that I saw upon the shelf of Borders. The book I recently (and finally) purchased when it came up as a Kindle daily deal.

Borders_Bookstore_Sign_Logo

As a Catholic, I grew up going to church, attending CCD, learning my prayers, beatitudes, commandments, and all the other stuff that goes along with it. I even spent three years at a Catholic college before needing a break to figure out life. I must admit, I love my faith and I do hold to my beliefs. That being said, I can also appreciate a provocative book that may or may not be pure blasphemy.  I’m leaning more toward blasphemy though in this particular case.

I say this because the life of Christ fascinates me. In college, I took a course called “Christ the Man, Christ the Word” which studied both the Biblical Jesus and the Jesus who was on the books in Rome’s great census. It was an amazing course because it looked beyond what I had known and had historical documentation to go along with this man that we all know (or at least know of).

Fast forward to that day in Borders where I found Lamb. It raised a question, what happened to Jesus before he started his works? I always wondered how it went for him. He was a person so that means he had to have been a teenager. Did he ever get into trouble? Did he ever go on a trip with his friends? So many years of his life are unaccounted for. Christopher Moore must have wondered too but, I think his imagination is much more creative than mine.

lamb

In his book we meet Biff, Joshua’s best friend (Jesus is the Greek name so in the book they refer to Him as Joshua). Biff and Josh grew up living next door to each other, Brian of Monty Python fame must have lived on the other side. From the start of their friendship, Biff knew that there was something different about Joshua when he would bring dead lizards back to life by putting them in his mouth.

As they grew up, the Romans became more prevalent in their lives and they soon realized, with a few visits from one of the angles, that Joshua needed to figure out how to be the messiah. Enter the wise men, the Magi, and a life changing trip that will actually prove to be more insightful than I originally expected.

Despite the biting satire, Biff’s often crude comments, and the treatment of the Magdalene, I could see something deeper in this book (whether Moore intended that or not, I am not completely sure) that spoke to the universality of Christ’s true message of love, tolerance, and forgiveness.

So many things in this book made me say, “yep, my spot will be under the burning lava waterfall for all eternity,” but then a conversation or a sentence would make me say, “maybe that is what that meant.”

Again, if you are someone who is deeply religious and does not believe that there should be any speculation about our Lord on any level, steer clear of this book. However, if you are strong enough in your faith and can handle a light-hearted, sometimes comical speculation of Christ the man, who had the same struggles we do, then give this book a try. I mean if you already saw Jesus Christ Superstar, you’re already in trouble, why not go all out. After all isn’t that why we have confession? Just kidding…

jesus christ superstar

Carl Anderson, Ted Neeley, and Yvonne Elliman in 1973’s Jesus Christ Superstar

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Win Your Own Kimco Wine Bottle Cover!

With the holiday season now official upon us, many of us will be invited to family gatherings, friend’s homes, and holiday parties.  If you’re like me, you hate going to these types of parties empty-handed.  My go to host gift is a bottle of wine.  I admit that may sometimes be the easy way out but let’s be honest, most everyone I know loves to get a nice bottle of vino.

Picking the wine is never a problem.  I know what my friends like and I’d like to think that I make delicious selections.  The problem is finding a way to present the bottle.  Yes, there are gift bags with lots of superfluous tissue paper.  Yes, there are very pretty bows and ribbons.  But what if you could wrap the bottle and not only give the gift of wine but also give the gift of a great way to present bottles at dinner parties or just dress up the bottle you are having with dinner?

Kimco Wine Bottle Covers are the answer.

With a variety of patterns, Kimco Wine Bottle Covers now provide a way to have a fashionably wrapped bottle of wine to present to a friend or family member for any occasion!

Made from a stretchy material, the Kimco Wine Bottle Cover simply slips over the bottle.  The bottle is completely covered and also gives a good grip to the bottle for pouring.

When I put the bottle on the table for our last Sunday family dinner, there were instantly a round of compliments on how great the bottle looked.  Just be sure to write down what kind of wine it is before you cover it so that if a foodie asks what you’re serving, you can easily provide the answer without having to unwrap the bottle right there at the table.

At the end of the meal, the bottle cover just slid right off and was read to be used again at our next family party!

As you start getting ready to attend all the holiday events, be sure to head over to Kimco’s website and purchase this great cover.  Not only do you get a wine bottle cover, you also will get a gift bag to place the wrapped bottle of wine in.

Now, dear reader, you have a chance to win a Kimco Wine Bottle Cover of your own!  Two lucky readers will be able to win one of these great covers and all you have to do is comment below and share your favorite wine.  Two winners will be picked at random.  Post your reply by Friday November 30, 2012 and the winners will be announced on Monday, December 3, 2012.

As the holiday season marches on through the end of the year, look for more product reviews or gift ideas to be featured!  If you have something you would like reviewed, please give me a shout and I’ll see what I can do!

Disclaimer: I was given this product for free in order to provide a review of the product.  The contest being run is being run in conjunction with the company that provided  me with the sample product.  All opinions expressed above are my opinions and not that of the manufacturer or of the company which distributes this product.  If you have any other questions about my opinion of this product, just let me know!

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Wreck-it-Ralph Full of Sugary Sweet Kindness

Once upon a time, you were in school.  You can easily remember the groups of kids, the cool kids, the kids in sports, the kids who were sitting in the front row of every class that didn’t have alphabetical seating.  Chances are pretty good that you also played one or two video games, whether in an arcade or at someone’s house at some point in your childhood.  Combine those two main themes and you now have the basis for Wreck-it-Ralph, Disney’s latest animated feature.

Disney’s Wreck-it-Ralph

The video game, Fix-it-Felix Jr. has its virtual world rocked when their nemesis, Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) leaves the game to search for a medal of his own so that the residents of Niceland will love him just as much as they love their hero, Fix-it-Felix Jr. (Jack McBrayer)  In order to win the medal, Ralph must jump to another game where anyone can win a medal.

His first attempt to win a medal in the game Hero’s Duty under the command of Sgt. Calhoun (Jane Lynch), ends somewhat disastrously and causes him to flee the game.  Crash landing in Sugar Rush, Ralph makes an unlikely friend in Vanellope von  Schweetz (Sarah Silverman).  The little girl wants nothing more than to race in her game’s big race but, King Candy wants to stop her and will do anything to make sure she does not ruin the race.

Ralph and Vanellope team up and work together despite being considered outcasts, even by each other at first, to prove that judging people based on how they look is not the way to live life.

Disney, once again, hid a very valuable message for kids in this fun adventure through the video games of Mom and Dad’s childhood.  The Husband got quite a kick out of seeing all the old video game characters and references.  I got most of them but, I will admit there were quite a few that I missed.  All of those references went over the Daughter’s head but the main point of the movie did not.

People just want to be appreciated and sometimes it’s the smallest action or a simple thank you that will help that person realize they are not invisible.  It was a lesson in doing acts of kindness and appreciation despite whatever preconceived notions we may hold.  Get to know a person or just show them some kindness and that simple action can have a very lasting effect.

So during the next few months, when stress levels reach critical mass, take a minute and do something kind for someone.  They may be feeling invisible and you just might be able to make them feel a little better.

And go see Wreck-it-Ralph.  But, word to the wise, buy some candy, not popcorn.  Forgo the popcorn because after watching all the candy and sweets in Sugar Rush, you leave with the oddest craving for some Twizzlers, Mentos, chocolate in any form, Laffy Taffy, cookies, Little Debbie snacks of any variety, and hot chocolate.

 

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